Dakar Declaration on Open Access gets big boost

The Open Access global community received a major boost in May 2016 when delegates to the fourth Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) Conference on Electronic Publishing adopted the ‘Dakar Declaration on Open Access Publishing in Africa and the Global South’.

The Dakar Declaration calls on scholars/researchers and students, policy makers and other stakeholders in the Global South (which includes Africa, Central and Latin America, and developing Asia including the Middle East) to undertake research and share findings of research that will improve the quality of people’s lives.

The Dakar Declaration is a product  of three days of intense discussion during the CODESRIA conference, titled ‘The OA Movement and the Future of Africa’s Knowledge Economy’, which took place from 29 March to 1 April 2016 in Dakar, Senegal.
It was drafted by a panel comprising representatives of CODESRIA, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and CLACSO (the  Latin American Council of Social Sciences), and eminent scholars, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Beban Sammy Chumbow, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Yaoundé 1 in Cameroon, and Eve Gray of the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

CODESRIA’s fourth conference brought together researchers, librarians, publishers and policy makers to discuss Open Access in Africa and other parts of the Global South.

Conference presenters and delegates shared case studies of OA at their institutions, and discussion ranged across topics including the ‘decolonization’ of the African university, open data and data sharing among scientists in resource-constrained environments, and strengthening scholarly community-led OA publishing.

“Privatization of public knowledge by commercial companies is not acceptable,” Dr Ebrima Sall, CODESRIA Executive Secretary, told delegates in his opening remarks. He also announced that CODESRIA was preparing to require OA for all its research output.

Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, called for more institutional OA policies in Nigeria and across Africa. Professor Beban Sammy Chumbow, Vice Chancellor of the ICT University and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon, also urged other institutions to join the OA movement.

Dr Williams Nwagwu (University of Ibadan/CODESRIA) stressed that researchers do research to inform, enlighten and educate the public; therefore their research outcomes are a public good. However, he said, over time research had become a commodity, and global academic publishing was now controlled by just five major publishers. Nwagwu described OA as a revolution that democratized knowledge power, and challenged the concept of what a journal is.

This article first appeared on the EIFL website. Read the original version.

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